The No. 8 Creighton Bluejays knocked off the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide by a 58-57 score in a back-and-forth affair that came down to the finals seconds on Friday. The Bluejays got down early as they suffered through a six-minute, 42-second scoring drought that stretched from the last four minutes of the first half into the early minutes after the intermission. During that span, Alabama outscored Creighton 13-0 and built a 33-23 lead. Then Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Doug McDermott led a 16-6 run capped by his free throws to tie the score up at 39-39 with 12:31 remaining in the game.
Both teams mixed in zone defense to keep it close in the second half, but Creighton successfully used heady passing to attack the length and athleticism of Alabama. They recorded seven assists and made just two turnovers in the final 20 minutes. When McDermott banked in a layup off an assist from Grant Gibbs to make it 51-50 with 5:40 left, Creighton grabbed their first lead since 3:19 in the first half.
From there, the Bluejays pushed their advantage as high as seven and as low as one, but they never relinquished it. Free-throw shooting almost became a fatal problem for Creighton, as they missed five of the last six freebies. After Gregory Echenique missed the front end of a one-and-one, McDermott bailed him out by grabbing a huge offensive rebound and spliting his free throws to push the lead back to three. Bama cut it to one with an Andrew Steele layup, and then Josh Jones missed a pair of free throws to give the Crimson Tide a chance at win.
Some confusion on offense cost Bama several seconds in crunch time, but they had a legitimate chance with a sideline in-bounds and 2.4 seconds on the clock. Steele got the ball in to Releford, but his scrambled three-point attempt came nowhere close to the basket thanks to excellent defense from Josh Jones -- although he may have gotten away with hitting Releford's elbow. Here's a look at that play to make your own decision:
McDermott led the Bluejays with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Trevor Releford scored 14 points to pace the Tide. Creighton will take on the winner of the matchup between the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels and the No. 16 Vermont Catamounts. For an update on the 2012 NCAA Tournament landscape as it relates to all of Friday's action, be sure to head over to SB Nation's printable bracket StoryStream.
For up-to-the-minute scores on all NCAA Tournament games, please check out SI.com's complete scoreboard.
For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.